Sunday, May 8, 2011

In 5 years time...

For about two hours on Friday, I thought there was a real possibility that I was going to be elected. And for about fifteen minutes, I thought I was definitely in. As I was driving to the regional count in Denbigh, I heard on the radio that Plaid Cymru were going to get two regional seats in North Wales and as I arrived, a few people that I know from other political parties congratulated me. Then I spoke to my fellow Plaid Cymru people, and heard the truth. We'd just missed out by a few hundred votes and that was the end of that. But at least Llyr was in, and I'm delighted for him as I know he'll be an excellent Assembly member.

It was a strange experience, driving back from Denbigh to Caernarfon. My phone was going mad, and people were still speculating on the radio that I was about to be elected. There was nothing for it but to stop the car, and put up on twitter that I definitely wasn't it. Within five minutes, that was being reported and the phone calls stopped. I plugged my ipod in, and the first song to play on shuffle was the following. I had to laugh at the irony!



It was always going to be a long shot for me to get in, so I'm not devestated but I am upset that other Plaid Cymru candidates didn't make it. The Assembly will be a poorer place without Nerys Evans, Helen Mary Jones, Chris Franks and Dai Lloyd. I truly hope we'll see them return in 2016. Wales needs them!

As for what went wrong for Plaid Cymru, I'm going to ponder for a few days before posting something a bit more subtantial here. Lessons need to be learnt without a doubt, and something dramatic needs to happen so that we transform our fortunes in time for the 2016 election.

By then, I hope to be standing as a candidate in a seat rather than a region. It's not an experience I'd like to go through again, because you're competing against your own team in order to have a chance of being elected. Even though I desperately wanted us to keep Aberconwy and I worked hard there alongside Iwan Huws, a small part of me knew that we had to lose the seat in order for me to possibly be elected. And that's wrong. Also, it's impossible to set definite goals as a list candidates. You end up doing a bit here and there in every constituency, and have no real control over the votes as your name doesn't appear on the ballot paper. Those you do convert to voting for you then struggle to understand how to cast that vote. At least in Montgomeryshire I could set a goal of coming third and be proud when we did achieve it.

I have to say that I was seriously impressed with our candidates across North Wales, who all worked incredibly hard and deserved better results. Mabon ap Gwynfor, Marc Jones, Carrie Harper and Shane Brennan are all names to watch out for in the future, and I very much hope to see Eifion Lloyd Jones and Iwan Huws run again as well. Seeing worse candidates being elected in some seats is depressing, but that's democracy unfortunately. We'll just have to keep up the good fight and hope for a breakthrough in the end, as happened for the SNP this time.

Thank you to all our activists - we couldn't have achieved anything without them! They're a fantastic group of people, and I've very much enjoyed campaigning with them and making new friends. Also, the Plaid Cymru staff who gave it their all - they are amazing. Mawr fydd eich gwobr yn y nefoedd!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Boring?!

Any other candidates/ activists fed up of hearing the press moan that this has been a boring campaign? Well, I certainly am especially as I've been out campaigning every single day with various campaign teams across the whole of North Wales and know that is not the case on the ground! We've had large teams out in every constituency trying to raise awareness and promote our ideas for a better Wales, and have also been updating websites with blogs, videos and pictures to convey all that hard work. We've had our first ever cinema advertisement, a manifesto brimming with ideas and countless press opportunities. And still they moan!

Most of the moaning comes from journalists who have remained largely based in Cardiff for the duration of the campaign, perhaps because of tight budgets. No surprise that things seem quiet where they are as all the politicians hoping to eventually make it to the Senedd are in other parts of the country! Also, to be fair, coverage has been hampered by the Royal Wedding, the AV referendum and also this week, Osama Bin Laden's death. How are we as political parties supposed to get our messages across if the world is focused on other issues?

We knew that the royal wedding and the AV referendum would pose challenges in terms of coverage, which is why we've focused on meeting as many people as possible and running effective local campaigns. Because of this approach, I believe there will be a few shock results tomorrow, that will take journalists by surprise. Or at least, that's what I'm hoping!

Could the parties have done more? Well, yes, I think some parties could have done more in some constituencies. For example, I've been shocked to see the lack of opposition to Alun Ffred in Arfon (great for us though) and the low profile nature of the Conservative campaign in Aberconwy in the crucial last two weeks. But ultimately, although there are a few excellent journalists in Wales, I think it is clear to all that ultimately, unless the press cover our new ideas and approaches then how are the political parties supposed to excite the masses about the campaign? I have to say the past two days in Aberconwy has been anything other than boring, with placards destroyed, the office being vandalised and a Labour pamphlet containing a number of untruths being forced to be withdrawn! There are some stresses one could do without!

Anyway, all will be revealed before long. I still have faith that Plaid will do better than predicted in today's polls as I honestly think that we have the best vision for Wales as well as the best team of candidates. Fingers crossed that the electorate will agree!